Funding Illegal Israeli Settlements
The Minnesota State Board of Investment is honor bound when it invests monies from Minnesota’s public employee pension funds. Each of the Board members, which includes Governor Mark Dayton (Chair), State Auditor Rebecca Otto, Secretary of State Steve Simon and Attorney General Lori Swanson know, or should know, that by investing in Israel Bonds the Board has violated its fiduciary responsibility to only invest public pension funds prudently. Israel Bonds are government bonds issued by the State of Israel.
Earlier this month I appeared before the Board members to urge them not to invest in Israel Bonds. Immediately after I ended my presentation, the Governor handed the other Board members a previously prepared written motion to continue investing the state’s pension funds in Israel Bonds. All of us in the packed hearing room understood that my testimony had been wasted. Facing members of the pro-Israel Lobby who had been seated in the front row, three of the four board members voted to invest. Only the State Auditor, Rebecca Otto, voted against the motion.
I’ve seen this pressure before. It usually consists of a subliminal threat by the pro-Israel Lobby to cut off any campaign money to those who defy what the Lobby wants. That is the same kind of threat that allowed Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu to travel to the United States to dictate to our Congress how American foreign policy should be conducted. I believe that the 36 standing ovations for Bibi and the 47 Republican Senatorial signatures on the letter to Iran were eager messages to the Israeli Lobby telling them how much Congress appreciated the campaign money given each election cycle to its obedient members. When I served in the US Senate I well remember the threats directed against me for not being obedient enough to the Lobby.
The Board of Investment’s vote to use Minnesota pensioners’ money to buy the low-yield bonds issued by Israel is, without question, highly imprudent and illegal, especially because the Board knows how the money will be used. American money plunged into Israel Bond sales is fungible, meaning that the money is lumped into Israel’s General Fund, and then used for anything Israel wants, without restriction. That also means that the money sent to Israel is used for settlements. Israel’s settlements are illegal under Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits an occupier from transferring any part of its civilian population into the territory it occupies. Article 49 was adopted by the international community after WWII as a direct response to Nazi Germany’s illegal and brutal occupation of lands belonging to its neighbors. Both the United States and Israel have signed the Fourth Geneva Convention. Even the United States Government has acknowledged that Israel’s settlements are illegal.
Beyond just exploiting American elected officials in their political zeal to become complicit in financing illegal Israeli settlements by using money from taxpayer funded public employee pension plans to do so, Israel has a long history of inflicting damage on American interests. During the 1967 Middle East War, Israel’s military attacked and attempted to sink a fully flagged American Navy vessel—the USS Liberty—which had been ordered to monitor the War by assuming a listening post off the coast of Egypt and Israel. Using fighter jets, as well as torpedo boats, Israel killed 34 American sailors and wounded another 171 sailors in the process.
What was painful for the survivors and the families of those Americans killed and wounded by Israel were the duplicitous actions of our own public officials, starting with President Lyndon Johnson, by refusing to allow fighter jets of the Sixth Fleet to come to the aid of the Liberty when it was under attack and working to cover up evidence of Israel’s deliberate attack on our ship and the killing and wounding of our sailors.
That wasn’t the last injury against American interests by our so called “ally.” In the 1970s, Israel recruited and paid a Pentagon employee, Jonathan Pollard, to sell to Israel a “truckload of secret documents,” as described by our then Secretary of Defense, Caspar Weinberger.
More recently, a Pentagon official, Larry Franklin, was indicted by the Justice Department in 2004 for handing over classified information on Iran to two employees of AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee), the leading lobby for Israel. Franklin, a former United States Department of Defense employee, pleaded guilty to several espionage-related charges and was initially sentenced in January 2006 to nearly 13 years in prison. Amazingly, Franklin’s sentence was later reduced to ten months house arrest and 100 hours of community service. In reducing his sentence, the Judge told Franklin that his community service should consist of “speaking to young people about the importance of public officials obeying the law.”
Franklin had passed highly classified information to AIPAC policy director Steven Rosen and AIPAC senior Iran analyst Keith Weissman, whom AIPAC later fired. Initially indicted for illegally conspiring to gather and disclose classified national security information to Israel, all charges against Rosen and Weissman were eventually dismissed.
These are just a few examples that we know about where Israel’s activities have seriously damaged United States interests. What we do not know, including the extent of the duplicity of our public servants, would most likely fill the pages of a book.
Not only is the Investment Board’s action imprudent and illegal with respect to giving Minnesota retirees’ money to a country that has never hesitated in harming America’s interests and will use the money to violate international law, it also tells Israel that it can do what it wishes, without paying any penalty, and that it can even get the United States to pay the price for it.
The Minnesota Investment Board should obey the law whether or not Israel’s Lobby dislikes that decision.
James Abourezk is a former US senator from South Dakota. He is the author of: Advise and Dissent: Memoirs of an ex-Senator.
By Robert Fantina | Aletho News | March 26, 2015
The genocidal methods employed by Israel against the Palestinians know no boundaries. The degree to which apartheid Israel works to erase Palestine, its people, history and culture is truly extraordinary. One method in use that may not be commonly known is referred to as ‘greenwashing’.
To fully understand this concept, it’s necessary first to understand and appreciate Palestinians’ devotion to, and reliance on, their lands in general, and olive trees in particular. For millennia, Palestinians have farmed the land and supported themselves and their families in this way. The olive tree has a central role in the lives and the very existence of Palestinians.
A newly-planted olive tree takes several years to bear fruit, but most will live for hundreds of years, producing fruit. It is not unusual for such trees to live for 2,000 years. The olives are used in a variety of ways, not only for oil, but in the making of soap, hair treatment and other products, and even to light their homes. Since many Palestinians live on lands that have been in their families for countless generations, there is a strong attachment to olive trees. Some families name their olive trees, indicating the importance the trees have to them.
Israel is not unaware of the significance of olive trees to the Palestinians. The Zionist Jewish National Fund (JNF) has long sponsored a program called ‘Plant a Tree in Israel’. For a small sum, they say, anyone in the world can have a European Pine tree planted in Israel, in memory of a loved one. Who can argue with such a thing? Can anything be more benign than planting a tree? However, there are multiple problems with this:
- The trees are planted in Palestine, not Israel;
- Olive trees are destroyed so that the new trees, European Pines, can be planted, and
- The new trees help to erase Palestinian history.
European Pines are, as the name indicates, common in European countries. They look far different than olive trees, and do not thrive in Palestine as olive trees do. These ‘memorial’ trees are planted not only on former olive tree orchards which have been destroyed to make way for them, but also on bulldozed villages. When orchards are destroyed, the owners are given no compensation; they have no opportunity to appeal the decision. They can only watch in despair as their livelihood, the same means that has sustained their family for generations untold, is destroyed.
Part of Israel’s genocidal practices involves obliterating Palestine history and culture; this is done, in part, by destroying entire villages, bulldozing every building in the village. Again, there is no compensation offered, and no opportunity to appeal. Palestinians must simply quickly remove whatever they can, before their homes, schools, mosques, hospitals, stores and farms are bulldozed. Once that is done, what better way to hide any remaining evidence that this area was once full of families, working, farming, going to school, etc., then to grow a forest on the site? European Pines grow quickly, hiding the tragedies on which they are planted.
In the past few decades, at least 280,000 olive trees have been intentionally destroyed in Palestine by Israel; an estimated 250,000,000 pine trees have been planted, some financed by well-meaning but uninformed people, but most by the Israeli government. It is likely that most of the people around the world who have sent money to have them planted are unaware of their real purpose; who is going to think of genocide, when planting a tree in memory of a loved one?
Israel has many methods of genocide against the Palestinians that are not generally known in the U.S.; reporting on these atrocities seems a bit better in much of the rest of the world. Greenwashing, like many others, is insidious, and must be stopped.
With the re-election of Israeli Prime Murderer Benjamin Netanyahu, the only change that can be expected in Israeli policy toward Palestine is an increase in illegal arrests, illegal settlement building, illegal land confiscation, and violence. However, a large crack in the fragile, glass jar of global support has appeared, put there by the campaign promises of Mr. Netanyahu. Even the United States, which for so long has been Israel’s willing puppet, is ‘reevaluating’ its policies toward that country, in view of Mr. Netanyahu’s assurance to Israelis that there will be no independent Palestine while he is Prime Murderer. Europe, long impatient with Israel’s continuing violation of international law, cannot be expected to sit quietly now.
What might this ‘reevaluation’ result in? The one aspect that is being whispered, almost in reverential awe, is the possibility that the U.S. may stop its blatantly unfair, constant and unjust defense of Israel at the United Nations. Any time that a resolution seeking to further the basic human rights of the Palestinians, rights that Israel deprives them of with the full support and financing of the United States, is proposed in the U.N., the U.S. vetoes it. Incredibly, it even vetoes it when it agrees with it! Consider then U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice’s astonishing comments when vetoing a resolution criticizing illegal settlements in 2011: She said that, while the U.S. sees “the folly and illegitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity, we think it unwise for this council to attempt to resolve the core issues that divide Israelis and Palestinians”. Now, perhaps, the handcuffs which the U.S. so firmly locked in place on the U.N.’s ability to do its job will be released.
What can Palestinians expect in the near term? Unfortunately, nothing good. The wheels of diplomacy turn far more slowly than those on the bulldozers that destroy Palestinian homes and olive trees. Yet there was a turning point with Israel’s savage genocide in the summer of 2014; now that Mr. Netanyahu has stated clearly his intentions regarding Palestine, the age of pretense is over. The U.S., which has never helped Palestine, can no longer hide behind the farce of negotiations. The time to act is now.
Robert Fantina’s latest book is Empire, Racism and Genocide: a History of US Foreign Policy (Red Pill Press).
Photo credit – International Solidarity Movement
Southampton University is hosting a conference next month which has stirred a whole raft of Zionist anger. “International Law and the State of Israel: Legitimacy, Responsibility and Exceptionalism” is, say its detractors, “anti-Semitic” and will, according to one British MP, “de-legitimise the existence of a democratic state”. Ah, is that the same “democratic state” wherein one-fifth of its citizens face official discrimination on a daily basis and the de-legitimisation of their culture, identity and existence in their own land?
Without wishing to pre-empt what the speakers at the conference are likely to say, this issue of “de-legitimisation” of Israel is fascinating, not least because it presupposes that the state has legitimacy in the first place. Accusations that Southampton’s examination of this topic will actually “legitimise anti-Semitism” are part of the usual smokescreen put up by the pro-Israel lobby in order to kill any discussion of Israel’s contempt for international laws and conventions.
During World War One, the British authorities, through the High Commissioner in Cairo, Sir Henry McMahon, conveyed a number of messages to Sherif Husain of Makkah promising “the Arabs” a Caliphate and the protection of the Holy Places in Makkah, Madinah and Jerusalem. Post-1917 Britain’s promises began to look even less likely to be fulfilled, with the issue of the infamous Balfour Declaration promising support for a “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine, “it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine…” That clause has been ignored completely ever since, with everything possible being done to expel the “non-Jewish communities” from their land in Palestine; the process continues to this day.
When Zionist leader Chaim Wiezmann arrived in Palestine in 1918, “he warned the British against the application of the democratic system as it ‘does not take into account the superiority of the Jew to the Arab…'” Wiezmann’s racism underpins the institutional racism of the “democratic state” whose existence is so beloved of the British MP noted above (and, it must be said, the prime minister, most of the British cabinet and far too many other MPs).
In the “recommendations of the King-Crane Commission with regard to Syria-Palestine and Iraq” presented to US President Woodrow Wilson in August 1919, it is stated that “a national home for the Jewish people is not equivalent to making Palestine into a Jewish State; nor can the erection of such a Jewish State be accomplished without the gravest trespass upon the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.” As such, “the extreme Zionist programme for Palestine of unlimited immigration of Jews… must be greatly modified”. A subsequent resolution of the US Congress in 1922 again reaffirmed the commitment for a “Jewish national home” not to damage the rights of the existing population of Palestine. This recurring theme has been ignored ever since.
The following year, King George V sent a message “To the people of Palestine” and, again, they were promised that the “national home for the Jewish People… will not in any way affect the civil or religious rights or diminish the prosperity of the general population of Palestine.” The man charged with passing on that message was Britain’s first High Commissioner for Palestine, Sir Herbert Samuel, “a British Jew sympathetic to the Zionist cause”. Samuel distributed public lands to Jews and fixed a quota of 16,500 Jewish immigrants to Palestine in the first year of his administration, “in addition to the flourishing illegal Jewish immigrants who poured into the country with forged documents and disappeared in the Jewish settlements”. The die was cast.
The League of Nations Mandate given to Britain more or less affirmed the intention to create this by now capitalised “National Home” for Jews in Palestine. It has been said that the British government sought this “legal and ‘constitutional’ cover” in order to be able to “plant and alien entity in the heart of the Arab World for its own strategic colonial plans and needs.” When the League’s successor, the United Nations, put forward a resolution to partition Palestine into two states, one Jewish and one Arab, it was overlooked that the UN Charter gives it no powers or right to create new countries.
“Israel is the only country in the world which was created by a ‘recommendation’ of the UN,” wrote Zafarul-Islam Khan in his book “Palestine Documents”. When, however, UN mediator Count Folke Bernadotte was sent to sort out the resultant “mess” he was assassinated by the Stern Gang, “a Jewish terrorist group whose leader went on to become prime minister of Israel.”
The UN Partition Plan was rejected by the Palestinians and Arab states, who argued that the League of Nations Mandate over Palestine came to an end when the organisation itself was dissolved in April 1946. On the basis of the UN Charter, the Palestinians, it was argued by Henry Cattan on their behalf, should have been granted independence; it was, he said, their “natural and alienable” right. This was rejected.
The partition plan gave most of historic Palestine to the Jewish state even though Jews owned just 6 per cent of the land; in the subsequent ethnic cleansing and so-called “war of independence”, the nascent state of Israel took even more land, having reneged on a deal that had been struck with Jordan’s King Abdullah, the present king’s grandfather.
Israel has never declared what its borders are, the only member state of the United Nations not to do so. Indeed, its membership of the UN was made conditional upon it allowing Palestinian refugees to return to their land. Not only has Israel ignored that condition (along with almost every other UN resolution ever since, despite being a creation of the international body) but it has also obliterated all trace of more than 530 towns and villages which once had a Palestinian population. A glance at the maps of “Palestine” from 1948 onwards show that it has virtually been subsumed by Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent disavowal of a two-state solution and the existence of a state of Palestine should not have been a surprise to anyone. Israel and its founding ideology of Zionism have a greed for more land in order to fulfil the aim of “Greater Israel”, from the Mediterranean to the River Jordan and even beyond. There never was any support for a state of Palestine and probably never will be, not in any meaningful sense, anyway. The people who said that the negotiations and “peace process” were a farce have been right all along.
The question remains therefore: what legitimacy does Israel have? It will be interesting to see what the conference in Southampton next month comes up with. That is, of course, if the Zionist lobby and its twisted views of free speech and democracy is unable to have it cancelled. Justice and freedom demand that they fail in their quest.
Okinawa’s governor ordered a halt to an underwater survey needed for reclamation of land for a new $8.6-billion base, which would host US troops after the Futenma facility on the island is closed.
Takeshi Onaga is delivering on the promise he made to voters to oppose the construction, after his election last November. At a media conference on Monday, he announced that defense ministry contractors must stop the survey due to the damage it’s causing to corral reefs. If they don’t, Onaga said he would revoke approval for drilling operations given by his predecessor in December 2012 within days.
The survey is necessary for the eventual construction of an off-shore runway for the future US military base in the less populous area of northern Okinawa, which would house thousands of troops after the closure of the Futenma base in the south.
The facility is viewed by locals as a source of noise, pollution and crime. Opposition to its presence flared up after the rape and abduction of a 12-year-old girl by three US servicemen in 1995.
In 1996, Tokyo and Washington agreed to shut the base down, but construction of a replacement stalled due to local resistance.
Onaga’s move coincides with the announcement of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to the US in late April. Abe, who supports the construction of the new base, is expected to be praised for his determined position to oppose Chinese influence in the region.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told journalists the Japanese government was examining Onaga’s documents. He called the governor’s steps “extremely regrettable.”
“We are going to continue with construction work without delay,” the spokesman said.
There is something deeply mendacious and cowardly about this ritual leaking by European diplomats of their annual report on Jerusalem. This year they’ve chosen to deposit the “confidential” report in the hands of the Guardian.
Obviously, the Europeans – and Americans – want this information about how angry they are with Israel disseminated as widely as possible in the wake of Netanyahu’s election win. “We’re mad and we’re not going to take it any more!” they shout – yet again, as they have done over the past four or five years.
As ever, the report is being described as “hard-hitting”; as ever, it threatens penalties against Israel; and as ever, it signifies nothing.
This is paltry theatre designed to persuade us – people with consciences – that our representatives care and that they are planning – at some point – to do something. But what it really indicates is that that something is going to amount to nothing more than empty threats. These are the same threats they have been making for more than a decade. And even were Europe actually to carry them out, they would have almost no impact on Israel.
Here’s what these “threats” consist of:
Known Jewish terrorists may face “restrictions” on entering Europe. (One would have hoped such “restrictions” were already in place.)
Europe may give its consumers more information about whether they are being misled into buying products from illegal settlements. (Such products should not even be available in Europe.)
And efforts will be made to “raise awareness” among European companies that it could be bad for business to be associated with the settlements. (And yet, according to free-market ideology, market forces ought to be enough to dissuade most companies from such associations – after all, they are supposed to want to maximise profits.)
In short, this list of potential “sanctions” is complete hot air. It’s zilch. And anyone claiming otherwise, including the Guardian, is simply conspiring in this diplomatic charade.
Britain acted illegally when it imposed territorial controls on the Chagos Islands without the consent of Mauritius, a UN judgment claims. The ruling may hinder US operations in Diego Garcia, where it holds an airbase on lease from the British.
The UN ruling also accuses Britain of ignoring the rights of Mauritius – which claims the islands as its own. Declaring the remote Indian Ocean archipelago a marine protected area (MPA) has damaged the fishing industry in surrounding waters, Mauritius claims.
The British Labour government of the time is accused of forcing through the MPA measure to strengthen its hand in the impending election.
“The UK has not been able to provide any convincing explanation for the urgency with which it proclaimed the MPA on 1 April 2010,” the ruling states.
The speed of the decision was “dictated by the electoral timetable in the United Kingdom or an anticipated change of government,” it was found.
“Not only did the United Kingdom proceed on the flawed basis that Mauritius had no fishing rights in the territorial sea of the Chagos archipelago, it presumed to conclude – without ever confirming with Mauritius – that the MPA was in Mauritius’ interest.”
The issue was addressed by a panel of five judges serving on the permanent court of arbitration, based in The Hague.
While three judges ruled the tribunal lacked the authority to adjudicate the issue, two ruled that, prior to the UK general election in 2010 and at the point of the territory’s creation in 1965, “British and American defense interests were put above Mauritius’s rights.”
The Mauritian government maintains its own sovereign claim, arguing the islands were effectively stolen by Britain in contravention of a UN resolution that segments of decolonizing nations could not simply be detached by the departing colonial power.
The Mauritian claim was succored by the ruling, which found that “The United Kingdom’s undertaking to return the Chagos archipelago to Mauritius gives Mauritius an interest in significant decisions that bear upon the possible future uses of the archipelago.
“Mauritius’ interest is not simply in the eventual return of Chagos archipelago, but also in the condition in which the archipelago will be returned.”
The move will be welcomed by displaced former residents of the Chagos Islands, who were forced from of their homes by the British in the 1960s to make way for the current US base.
Diego Garcia has repeatedly made headlines over allegations that US extraordinary rendition flights were routed through the airbase.
The University of Southampton has hit back at appeals to revoke its sponsorship of a conference questioning the legality of Israel’s right to exist under international law.
The three-day conference, titled “International Law and the State of Israel: Legitimacy, Responsibility and Exceptionalism” is scheduled to take place April 17-19.
According to the organizers, it will “explore the relatedness of the suffering and injustice in Palestine to the foundation and protection of a state of such nature and asks what role International Law should play in the situation.”
“It is unique because it concerns the legitimacy in International Law of the Jewish state of Israel.”
Conservative MP Mark Hoban, a prominent supporter of the state of Israel, has called on the university vice-chancellor to withdraw sponsorship, branding the conference “provocative.”
Critics say the event may “well affect the attractiveness of the School of Law for future UK and international students.”
In a climate of rising anti-Semitism in the UK, the institution insists its event will not add to it.
Jewish community leaders nevertheless say the conference “surpasses the unacceptable.”
Judging by the name and the advertised speakers, Jewish leaders said the symposium “sets out explicitly to question the very legitimacy of a member of the UN,” the Jerusalem Post reported.
In a letter to the university, Jewish leaders accused Southampton’s Law School of “being used as an academic platform to advance, not just to legitimate, Palestinian national rights.”
“What other state in the global community of nations – democratic or tyrannical – is ever subjected to such a critique? The conference causes us great concern and distress. It will undoubtedly trouble greatly the members of the UK Jewish community,” the leaders said.
They urged the university to reconsider holding the event.
Despite the appeal and a petition signed by almost 3,000 people, the university insisted the conference would go ahead as planned.
According to the Jerusalem Post’s sources, Hazel Biggs, the head of the University of Southampton’s Law School, rejected the appeal.
Even though the title of the symposium raised an important question, the event would take “no explicit perspective,” Biggs said.
Despite the event being in “final stages of preparation,” the Jewish Leadership Council or the Board of Deputies of British Jews are welcome to recommend suitable speakers as the institution is “happy to receive their nominations.”
The university has received nearly a dozen letters from Jewish organizations and members of parliament urging them to cancel the event.
However, a source close to the Jewish delegation told the Jerusalem Post it is clear the university is “not going to budge.”
A spokesperson for the university said: “We are committed to academic freedom, free speech and opportunities for staff and students to engage with a wide range of opinions.”
The spokesperson said that “discussion and critical thinking” was fundamental to the institution, and added that academics have freedom to explore “controversial issues,” while “giving due regard for the need to respect others.”
“The conference aims to examine the role international law can play in political struggles and to act as a platform for scholarly debate, welcoming academic contributions from a range of perspectives,” the spokesperson said.
According to Muhammad Abu al-Hummus, member of a local follow-up committee, large numbers of Israeli troops and municipality inspectors escorted bulldozers and excavators into the southeastern outskirts of the town, where they demolished stone walls and steel structures used by local farmers as store houses and livestock barns.
Abu al-Hummus said the bulldozers “deliberately” ruined the dirt roads used by farmers to access their fields.
The land is located in an area Israeli authorities have earmarked for a national park, in a controversial plan known as “11092”, which aims to turn 700 dunums of land in the Palestinian towns of al-Issawiya and al-Tur into Israeli parkland.
A statement from the Palestinian Center for Human Rights in 2013 previously stated that “the plan is part of the Israeli government’s plans to create a Jewish demographic majority in the occupied city.”
In September 2014, an Israeli planning council suspended the plan until the needs of the Arab towns could be assessed. However, the council, which previously approved the annexation of the 700 dunums, said that approval of the plan could be justified and was not fundamentally illegal.
According to Abu al-Hummus, the local Israeli municipality has ignored the plan’s suspension.
“Israeli forces brush aside court decisions and decisions made by different committees when it comes to implementing settlement expansion plans,” he said.
The land leveled on Tuesday is owned by the Abu Asab, Ubeid, Dari, Abu al-Hummus and Ulayyan among others.
East Jerusalem was seized by Israel along with the West Bank in 1967 during the Six-Day War, and since then, the Israeli government has undertaken a policy of “Judaization” across the city, constructing Jewish settlements and demolishing Palestinian homes.
There are now believed to be more than 300,000 Jewish settlers in East Jerusalem.
The international community views East Jerusalem as part of the Palestinian territories and recognizes the annexation and settlement programs as illegal under international law.
There is only one reason that Netanyahu is received as a Viceroy overseeing and dictating strategic policy to what clearly is a servile colonial legislature
There have been times when history has played tricks with man and… has magnified the features of essentially small persons into a parody of greatness.
— Rabindranath Tagore (on Benito Mussolini)
How is it that the ruler (Benjamin Netanyahu) of a puny country (Israel) of 8.2 million (6.2 million Jews) with the 37th biggest economy (GDP in current prices) in the world dictates war policy and secures the willing submission of the legislature of the largest economy and most powerful military empire in the world?
What significance does Netanyahu’s speech to the US Congress have, beyond the fact that he uses it as a platform to attack the elected President of the US, to denounce US peace negotiations, and to demand that Congress adopt policies designed to precipitate a war with Iran?
Netanyahu’s Dominant Presence in the US
There is only one reason that Netanyahu is received as a Viceroy overseeing and dictating strategic policy to what clearly is a servile colonial legislature: over the past quarter of a century, Israel’s proxy in the US, an entire panoply of Zionist political organizations, government officials, propaganda mills, media moguls, billionaires and millionaires, have deeply penetrated the legislature, executive and administrative centers of decision making. Netanyahu’s arrogance and “brazen” presumption (Financial Times, 3/4/15, p. 6) to dictate policy to the US Congress is rooted in the pre-existing power base created by the proxy Zionist power configuration.
Netanyahu can sneer, with a crooked smile, at the US President, because, after several decades of Zionist permeation of the US state, he knows that he comes not as an outside power but as a leader and spokesperson of an inside power.
His presence was hailed by all the mass media as a major event, as international news, for over a month in advance. With Napoleonic presumption he dared to announce in advance that he would advance a war thesis in the fashion of any head of state. He can act as an unelected dictator because the elected officials have been converted into docile and complicit subjects by his proxy power structure.
The crucial theoretical point is that the conditions, that enabled Netanyahu to come, to see and to conquer, were not of his doing. His presence in the US Congress and his message is derived from the power of his supporters, deeply embedded in the structure of political power in the US.
Otherwise, who would take serious his delusional military fantasies, his clinically paranoid vision of peaceful adversaries, conspiring to “nuke Israel” and then the world, without a single nuclear bomb!
Prominent among Netanyahu’s financial backers are a group of prominent Zionist lumpen-bourgeoisie, billionaires who lent to millions of borrowers at extortionate rates (between 1400 and 4000% ) and played a leading role in the fraudulent mortgage induced crises of 2009-forward. They include Al Goldstein co-founder of AvantCredit and CashNetUSA; Sasha Orloff and Jacob Rosenberg founders of Lendup; Daniel Gilbert founder of QuickenLoans — a predator subprime lender; Ronald Arnall owner of Ameriquest… They used part of their ill-gotten gains to ease their consciences by donating millions to Israeli and US Jewish causes. Being generous to Israel provides a sort of perverse “absolution” for screwing millions of Americans.
One does not need much imagination to envision them cheering Netanyahu’s AIPAC and Congressional diatribes. It is not surprising that the lumpen-bourgeoisie backs a lumpen-prime minister.
The best and the brightest among the Zionist phalanx of pundits, professors, lawyers, economists, and financiers have created an aura of gravitas and profundity around this vulgar beerhall brawler.
This raises a basic question: Why do upwardly mobile, prosperous and elite-educated Zionist majorities enthusiastically pledge unconditional loyalty to a crude authoritarian foreign ruler who humiliates their country of birth?
Why did ten thousand American-born Zionist professionals stand and cheer, as they did the day before his congressional speech, as Netanyahu dictated his rabid bellicose political line to them at the AIPAC conference?
Is it because they believe he is their Chosen Leader of their Chosen Fatherland?
Netanyahu, with all his vulgarity and mediocrity, strikes a deep and abiding chord in the soul of his Zionist followers. They believe they are the collective geniuses of a superior species, who need not abide by the legal norms of non-Zionist states and international laws which hinder his colonial rule over millions of Palestinians.
What else but that identity of superiority allows the educated and prosperous, the humane and the cruel, to bond and welcome Netanyahu, as a modern secular Moses crossing the Potomac, delivering “the Jews” (for the messianic Netanyahu claims to speak for “all Jews”) from the mortal threats (Iran) cultivated by gentile politicians. The great majority of Zionist activists are deaf, dumb, and blind to those who criticize and refute his infantile and grotesque lies, the scrofulous screeds about non-existing “existential threats” which infest his speeches. Worse they will terrorize and cow any critic, demand that their employers fire them, as they have done over the past two decades. They believe that the Palestinians, who Israel bombed into the Stone Age, are threats to Israel. They believe that nuclear weapon-less Iranians, facing hundreds of Israeli nuclear bombs, are a threat to Israel. They believe there is one “truth”: that all measures, speeches and actions, which enhance the power and glory of Israel, are virtuous. It is this “truth” that motivates hundreds of thousands of “virtuous” Zionists to donate hundreds of millions of dollars to buy and/or intimidate presidents and congresspeople, governors and mayors, university presidents and faculty, police informers and academic thugs. It is this Zionist power configuration, which allows a political low-life like Netanyahu to enter and dominate the legislative chamber and tell US citizens where and when their next war should take place. It is for this power configuration that Congressmen and women “perform” — applauding and jumping up on cue for each and every one of Netanyahu’s emotional ejaculations.
Broad sectors of the Israeli public were immensely impressed by Netanyahu’s capacity to humiliate the President, by his willingness to dictate policy to the US and by the hyperkinetic docility and submissiveness of US Congress people. But this is not surprising: After all, Israelis are used to dominating Palestinians and torturing them into submission and colonizing a whole people. Why shouldn’t they gloat and puff up with pride when Netanyahu speaks and acts as a colonial viceroy to the US? After all, their leader is dominating a so-called ‘world power’!
No doubt the Israeli empire loyalists will overwhelmingly vote for Netanyahu, even if the “opposition” claims they also denounce the US-Iranian peace negotiations. Opposition leaders Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni don’t have Netanyahu’s gangster look, that crooked smile that says to the US leaders: “We lead you by the nose and you love it!” What the rest of the world thinks of a braying donkey in Washington led by the nose is not hard to imagine: US world leadership certainly is not foremost in their minds…
There is much idle chatter from liberals, leftists and progressives, claiming that Netanyahu’s ‘brazen intervention’ would backfire; that it would damage relations with the US; that it would weaken and undermine US-Israeli relations and allow Iran to secure nuclear weapons. Liberal Zionists claim that Netanyahu’s speech would weaken support for Israel among Democratic congress people. Liberal Zionists claim that Netanyahu’s speech would weaken US support for Israel (God forbid!).
These lamentations have no substance; they are mendacious concoctions of minds which lack any capacity to understand power, especially the permanent power of the Zionist power configuration.
Even a cursory reading of the political facts which preceded, accompanied and followed Netanyahu’s Congressional dictates, demonstrates the exact opposite.
Immediately after Netanyahu’s intervention, Congressional leaders moved ahead to fast track legislation to heighten Iranian sanctions, to veto any Executive agreement. The Republication majority and over half of the Democrats chose to back the “foreign Viceroy” on policies of war and peace.
Far from “prejudicing” relations with the Obama regime, the Administration in the person of Secretary of State John Kerry vetoed a measure passed by the UN Human Right Commission condemning Israel’s savage war crimes against Palestinians. Obama’s United Nations Ambassador Samantha Power did her usual belly crawl for Israel at the AIPAC conference following Netanyahu’s rousing diatribe. US-Iranian “negotiations” in Switzerland increasingly turned on exactly the issues Netanyahu demanded. US Secretary of State Kerry insisted on on-going intrusive inspections of Iran’s entire nuclear and military installations; retaining most sanctions for a decade; eliminating most enriched uranium … In a word disarming Iran, increasing its military vulnerability to an Israeli nuclear attack, without any deterrence or retaliatory capacity! Iran is formally negotiating with Kerry on behalf of the 5 plus 1, but the agenda and demands are set by the raucous over-voice of Netanyahu, who is the most influential invisible presence.
In other words, there is ample evidence that Netanyahu’s intervention, far from ‘damaging’ US-Israeli relations, further reinforced Israel’s power over the US. By securing the Administration’s declarations of unconditional loyalty while humiliating the President and seizing executive prerogatives, Israel demonstrates to the world that it can and will dictate US strategic policy and denounce its President with total impunity.
Netanyahu is far from being ostracized. He has a global platform from which to spew his rabid chauvinist diatribes against peace and negotiations. His speech, its content and style, received front page and extended prime time coverage. His war-mongering resonated with the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and US News and World Report.
Netanyahu’s political line inspired AIPAC’s ten thousand ultra-Zionists, who stormed Capital Hall and demanded Congress people and Congressional staff act on His message. Not a single dissenting voice emanated from the Presidents of the 52 Major American (sic) Jewish organizations whose first loyalty continued to be toward Israeli interests as defined by their Prime Minister.
The voices of dissent among the few dozen Jews on Capitol Hill, and outside the AIPAC conference hall, did not register in Congress or among the vast majority of Jewish community leaders or in the mass media.
Contrary to the lamentations and claims that Netanyahu has “weakened” Israel, the facts on the ground demonstrate that he has strengthened his “leadership” among the billionaires who buy US Congressional leaders. He has demonstrated that US officials, even ones who he insults and attacks, will continue to support Israeli war crimes in international forums; regale Israel with $3 billion a year in military aid to enhance its military supremacy in the Middle East; and incorporate its demands in any strategic negotiations with ‘Islamic’ countries like Iran, even if it undermines the basis of any negotiated agreement.
Clearly Netanyahu alienated a minority of US Congressional Democrats but mostly on procedural issues of protocol rather than on the more substantive issues of mongering for war and sanctions against Iran. Netanyahu’s messianic claim to speak for “all Jews” did arouse over 2,000 American Jews and non-Jews to sign a paid advertisement denying his status as the Second Coming of Moses.
But as the rousing welcome and conclusion to his speech by the Congressional majority and the unanimity of AIPAC’s thousands demonstrate, Israel’s formidable Zionist power configuration still dominates US policy in the Middle East.
The ‘debate’ over Netanyahu’s episodic presence in the US Congress and humiliation of the US President is misplaced. What really needs to be debated is the more fundamental question of the permanent presence, power and prerogatives of the Zionist power configuration in the making of US Middle East policy.
No other visiting Prime Minister or President will be received with so much media attention and political fanfare as Netanyahu because none possess the formidable, organized, well-financed and disciplined political apparatus which Israel possess. This is an apparatus which defends and promotes US wars on behalf of Israel, Israel’s war crimes, land seizures and torture of Palestinians. That they support Netanyahu’s gross humiliation of Obama is not surprising – it merely confirms the “Law of the Return”: that for American Zionists there is only one true state of the Jews – and that is Israel; and that their only “true” leaders are Israelis. As it happens, today he is called Benjamin Netanyahu. And that any US policy, negotiations or agreements in the Middle East have to be in accord with their leader.
Congress knows that.
The “52” know that.
Only the majority of the American electorate, who still believe they live in a free and independent country, is not privy to that reality, even though Netanyahu’s intervention in the US Congress and gross humiliation of the President should tell them otherwise.
But then we live in a peculiar sui generis ‘meritocracy’ in which the opinions of the 2%, the so-called chosen people, counts more than that of 98% of our citizens.
The critics, Jews and non-Jews, must realize that their problem with Netanyahu requires them to delve deeper, and that their opposition needs to become more systematic and more directly confrontational with the Zionist power configuration. Otherwise, there is no basis for believing that the US can end national humiliations and regain its status as a free and democratic republic.
A new report from the investigative journalism team at DanWatch gives more disturbing evidence of Danish businesses helping to keep the wheels of Israel’s military occupation of Palestine turning.
Danish investment funds invest 689 million Danish Krone (around £67 million) in companies with activities in illegal Israeli settlements on the West Bank, it claims. These funds, therefore, contribute to the maintenance of the apparatus of the Israeli occupation, including the Separation (“Apartheid”) Wall and the settlements.
In addition, say DanWatch, more than 1 billion krone is invested by Danish pension funds in companies either building or operating military checkpoints, the Wall or settlements. Such investments have been exposed in a previous DanWatch report. See, for example. Businesses such as G4S and ISS have reduced their activities in the occupied territories following global publicity about their support for the occupation, but have no plans to end it altogether. Investment in companies profiting from the occupation is illegal under Danish law.
The investment funds named by DanWatch are: Danske Invest, Nykredit Invest, Bank Invest, Nordea Invest, Sydinvest, Jyske Invest, Sparinvest and SEB Invest, all of which are subject to the UN’s Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Indeed, the UN, EU and the Danish government have warned companies repeatedly against investing in the Israeli occupation. The settlements, Separation Wall and checkpoints in the West Bank breach international law as they violate the human rights of the Palestinian people.
Despite this, the new report identifies huge Danish investment in companies that deliver surveillance equipment to checkpoints, cement and building materials to the maintenance of the Separation Wall and bulldozers to the Israeli army. They risk accusations of complicity in human rights violations in the occupied territories.
The DanWatch report reveals the contradictions inherent in investments by the companies mentioned therein. All, for example, claim that they stick to the UN guidelines upon which they base their “ethical investments”. Bank Invest, Jyske Invest and Sydinvest support Cemex, which owns a supplier of cement to Israeli settlements, checkpoints and the Wall. Cemex is blacklisted by Nordea Invest, which has holdings in the Israeli Hapoalim Bank which, in turn, provides loans to construction projects in settlements and is, as a result, blacklisted by Danske Invest.
According to DanWatch all of the funds, bar one, have investments in the US firm Caterpillar. This supplies the D9 bulldozers used by the Israeli army for its devastating and sometimes lethal house demolitions. According to Human Rights Watch, it was these bulldozers that were used in 2010 to destroy buildings while civilians were still inside.
The investments continue despite Danish government appeals for companies to avoid engaging with business involved in, or benefiting from, the Israeli settlements. “The government,” said Trade and Development Minister Mogens Jensen last September, “has on several occasions reminded the public that Danish citizens and businesses should not participate in activity and business that can benefit the Israeli settlements. I will say this yet again.”
Interestingly, Copenhagen Municipality has a total of 2.21 million Dkr invested in seven companies which contribute to the construction or operation of checkpoints, the Wall or settlements in the occupied West Bank.
The coverage given to illegal investment in Israeli settlements has had the effect of Ahava beauty products being taken off the shelves by Danish retailers. A number of supermarkets sell fruit bought from Israeli exporter Mehadrin, which has produce grown in Israel and in the settlements. The Coop supermarket chain now insists on Israeli exporters signing a formal agreement that they will only supply produce from the exporter’s sources in Israel, not the settlements.
Another example of a settlement-based company affected by a boycott is Sodastream, which has had to move production to Israel this year following negative publicity in 2014. A number of Danish companies still stock Sodastream products.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Tel Aviv will not give away any occupied land to Palestinians, rejecting the idea of Palestinian statehood.
In a Sunday statement released by his right-wing Likud party, Netanyahu said that a speech he gave in 2009, endorsing a Palestinian statehood as a solution to decades of conflict, was now “irrelevant.”
“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that [in light of] the situation that has arisen in the Middle East, any evacuated territory would fall into the hands of Islamic extremism and terror organizations supported by Iran. Therefore, there will be no concessions or withdrawals; they are simply irrelevant,” the statement read.
Later on Sunday, Netanyahu’s office said in response that the prime minister made no comment to that effect.
“Prime Minister Netanyahu has made clear for years that given the current conditions in the Middle East, any territory that is given will be seized by radical Islam just like what happened [in] Gaza and in southern Lebanon,” Netanyahu’s office said.
However, Netanyahu has repeatedly said he would not run the risk of handing over land that might fall into the hands of the resistance movement.
Palestinian official Saeb Erekat said Netanyahu was using regional strifes as an excuse, saying, “Today Netanyahu revealed his true face.”
“Since 1993, he worked hard for the destruction of the option of peace and the option of a two-state solution,” the Palestinian chief negotiator added.
In the past few months, the Palestinian national unity government has been pushing for a UN resolution that determines the borders of the future Palestinian state based on the pre-1967 lines. Israel has expressed outcries over the motion. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says there will be no negotiations over land with Israel as Palestinians will not give up even an inch of their land.
In 1967, Israel occupied the West Bank, East al-Quds (Jerusalem), and the Gaza Strip but withdrew from the enclave in 2005. Palestinians are seeking to create an independent state on the territories of the West Bank, East al-Quds and the Gaza Strip. Tel Aviv, however, has refused to return to the 1967 borders and is unwilling to discuss the issue of East al-Quds.
The Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) has decided to end all security cooperation with Israel, Palestinian officials say.
According to reports on Thursday, the Palestinian Central Council (PCC) of the PLO, led by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, made the decision to cut all forms of security cooperation with Israel after two-day discussions in Ramallah.
“Security coordination in all its forms with the authority of the Israeli occupation will be stopped in the light of its (Israel’s) non-compliance with the agreements signed between the two sides,” the PCC, the second highest Palestinian decision-making body, said in a statement.
Tel Aviv “should shoulder all its responsibilities towards the Palestinian people in the occupied state of Palestine as an occupation authority according to international law,” the statement read.
The statement also called on the United Nations Security Council to “determine a deadline to end the Israeli occupation and ensure that the state of Palestine is enabled to practice its sovereignty on its land occupied since 1967, including its capital east Jerusalem and, resolve the issue of refugees according to resolution 194.”
“The concept of a Jewish state is rejected and also of a (Palestinian) state with provisional borders is rejected. Any formula that will keep an Israeli military or settler presence on any part of the land of the state of Palestine is rejected,” the statement further read.
At the opening of the two-day talks, attended by officials from the PCC, on Wednesday, Abbas (pictured below) denounced a decision by the Israeli regime to withhold Palestinian tax revenues worth more than $100 million a month.
“How are they allowed to take away our money? Are we dealing with a state or with a gangster?” he asked.
The two-day meetings, attended by legislators, union leaders, and other figures, focused on a review of interim agreements with the Israelis.
In response to Palestinian efforts to finally attain membership at the International Criminal Court (ICC), Tel Aviv announced a freeze on the revenues transfer in January.
Palestinians are continuing efforts to file war crime charges against the regime at the ICC.
The Palestinian president further called the tax freeze a provocation, noting that “peaceful, popular resistance is the only way for us” in the fight against Israel.
Abbas also asked “all countries of the world to recognize the state of Palestine.”
“But we want to say to the Israeli side, these recognitions do not mean in any way that we do not want to negotiate, or that we’re running away from negotiations,” Abbas said, adding that talks would continue with “whoever” wins the Israeli general elections on March 17.